A Conservative councillor from Southport, Les Byrom, has defected to the Labour party. Byrom was Conservative group leader from 1991 until 2005, and his defection seems to have come as something of a shock to his colleages. Hazel Blears has had this to say:
"Here is another top Tory who has seen through David Cameron's shallow salesmanship and said 'enough is enough'."
There are many things to say about this. First of all, it's a sign of the tragic state of affairs and lack of confidence in the Labour party that a Cabinet member and Secretary of State is wheeled out to gloat when a councillor from the middle of nowhere defects to them. Secondly, I'd consider David Davis, George Osborne or William Hague to be worthy of the title of "top Tory", not some guy from Southport. And thirdly, are Labour now totally committed to being rude about every single salesman in the country by using their profession as an insulting term?
What is also interesting is Byrom's reasoning for defecting. He wrote a letter, which I have been unable to get hold of, but I have found some extracts here:
Byrom has blamed his decision on the Conservative Party's "unprincipled approach to policy-making, determined less by what is right for the country than what will produce the maximum short-term partisan advantage... Nowhere is this issue more stark than in the current debate about pre-charge detention."
In other words, it's the 42-day detention issue. But clearly Les Byrom is unable to read, otherwise he would have seen this recent ICM opinion poll that showed a 65/30 percentage split in favour of 42-days detention. In other words, the Conservative viewpoint isn't anything to do with "gaining short-term partisan advantage", because it's actually the more unpopular opinion. It is Labour who are playing politics on this issue in an attempt to look tough on terrorism. They have security agencies, police figures, and Parliamentary committees lining up to tell them 42-days is either unnecessary or dangerous, and yet they are continuing to trick and bully MPs into voting for it.
Hazel, you're welcome to him. I'm sure you'll be very happy together.
Update - Iain Dale has a bit of background that makes this story even more interesting.
1 hour ago